Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Food Tours Galore... and more!

As the new Delicious Israel intern, I have many responsibilities. One being going on food tours. This past Sunday, I embarked on the infamous "Levinsky Market" tour led by my boss, Inbal. Now, Levinsky Market isn't what you may think it is... I originally thought it would be like the Shuk (Carmel Market), but to my surprise it was just a bunch of streets with food stores on them. On our tour was a family from Toronto and a couple from New York and me. Everyone was so friendly, especially since we were after all bonding over food.

Abu Hassan Hummus
The tour featured many shops along Levinsky Street as well as some side streets. We sampled spices, olives, cheese, hummus, meats, the list can go on and on. The most interesting part to me was a place called Cafe Levinsky 41 (aka the address... so original I know.) We met the store owner who explained what he did. Basically, he preserves various fruits, vegetables, spices, you name it, he does it. His entire shop is covered with jars with preservatives in them. His idea was to make various drinks with homemade syrups and seltzer water. So he makes a concoction of a mixture of syrups and then adds water from a soda stream type gadget. It honestly was mind-blowing because it is such a unique concept and the drinks were out of this world!

Cafe Levinsky 41 

The next day, I went on a similar food tour except in addition we went to Jaffa which is my actual happy place. I am obsessed with Jaffa and no one can sway me otherwise. Jaffa is South of Tel Aviv and the architecture is inspired by the Middle East, Morocco, etc. There is a Jaffa Flea Market which has lots of goodies as well as beautiful restaurants with outdoor patios, amazing shops, and did I mention AMAZING shops?!? We went to a famous hummus place during the tour called Abu Hassan which I have been DYING to go to and I finally went... for free I might add! :)

It's funny to me how people sit at a desk 9-5 here for internships and then there's mine which entitles me to go explore Tel Aviv and all it has to offer. I can proudly say though that those two days taught me more about Tel Aviv, Israeli culture, food, and myself then my past 2 weeks in Israel.

So funny experience that my friend and I had the other day. Tali (my friend) and I recently joined the gym to kick our tushies since all we've been doing here is eating and drinking. They also have an outdoor pool which isn't too shabby. So, we decided to enroll for a kickboxing class at the gym. We walked over and at first we were completely lost because of course every sign is in Hebrew. We tried finding Studio 1 except literally every building and room was labeled 1 so that just messed with our heads. We finally found the class, with about 30 people in line before us. When the clock stroke 7pm, it was a literal mad rush with the class before letting out about 30 people and then 30 of us shoving our way into the crowded studio. Israel has many things that don't make sense here and that is just one of the many confusing and unorganized things in this country. So, Tali and I started the class literally hysterically laughing because the people were just too damn funny. The teacher was an adrenaline junkie and was screaming and shouting the ENTIRE class. Oh, did I mention the class was instructed in Hebrew? Jokes on us I guess. It was a great workout though and I definitely got some worthwhile laughs.

Another funny story here. Four of my friends and I decided to go out for sushi the other night. At the end of the meal, our waitress brought us free shots of some fruity Japanese liquor. I first took a sip to see if I would like it or not and it was so fruity so obviously I had to have it. We all took the shot in unison and while Dani, Tali, and my facial expressions read that we liked the shot, Cydnie looked utterly disgusted. We were trying to figure out what was wrong because the shot was delicious and very refreshing after a sushi dinner. A few minutes later, the waitress came over and said that by mistake she poured one of us a shot of whiskey... we honestly could not stop laughing for about 5 minutes!

Also random side note- we were trying to explain to my madricha (RA), Shira what a "typical American Jewish Girl" looks like. We were explaining that they are usually short, dark brown hair, brown eyes, etc. As we were explaining my entire group was literally like, "What Alexis looks like." It was very funny and so true.

Yesterday, with my day off of work, my friends and I decided to go back to Jaffa because of my #obsession. I showed them around, playing tour guide for the day. We were famished and needed to find a place to eat ASAP and we came across this cute cafe. Turns out, it was the restaurant that I've been searching for, called Cafe Puaa. This restaurant was so cutely decorated and I want my first house to look like that. It was out of an antique store/Anthropologie combo. Needless to say I was mesmerized and couldn't stop looking around and taking photos. We spent the rest of our day shopping because we were in desperate need for some retail therapy. You know, my days in Tel Aviv are really rough. I bought myself a pair of earrings and am definitely going back for more sometime soon.

Cafe Puaa 

Last night, we celebrated Tali's 21st birthday at a restaurant called Night Kitchen. Thankfully my friends here like to eat like me so three of us split a bunch of appetizers and I felt like I was at home with Mom because we always do the same. After dinner, we headed to Rabin Square to participate in a memorial for the three boys who were kidnapped and were recently found dead. I can't describe the thoughts and feelings I felt being there because I had many emotions running through my head. When we arrived, the people were gathered singing "Shalom Alenu" which was so moving I had goosebumps. In this heart-wrenching and horrific occasion though, it is amazing to me how our people stick together. As sad as this tragedy is, I think it makes this Jewish community even closer. I can't really describe what it is like to be in Israel during all of this, but it just makes me thankful for all I have, both near and far. I was standing at the memorial thinking about the family and friends of these boys and their pain right now, and thinking to myself that I'm so thankful for all of my friends and family. I guess it's times like these where you just have to make the most out of a really shitty situation and just try to stay positive.

Night Out with Friends

Beautiful sunset

Outside of Puaa 

Jaffa Market

Marissa, Tali, Dani, Me, Hannah

Memorial for the boys 

On a brighter note, I am headed to my first Hebrew class in a few hours! Should be an interesting sight to see, especially since I've been jumbling my Hebrew with my English. For example, the word "to move" is Zuzi. We were at the beach and these boys were playing paddle board literally RIGHT in front of us so I decided to use my Hebrew and say, "Do you mind zuzing on over there?" My friends were hysterically laughing because Hebrew and I just don't really mix.

Off to Jerusalem for a Shabbaton weekend with other Onward Israel groups. Should be interesting.....

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